Last night, as people gathered for a Supervisors' meeting at the Hanover Township Municipal Building, a volunteer fighter was running tests on the Township's new 100' ladder truck."We just put it into service last night," he said, with a smile like that of a father with a newborn baby. That truck came with a $1.2 million pricetag. Hanover Township just wrote a check. No line of credit or bond with accompanying debt service.
This reluctance to borrow, combined with planning ahead for capital projects, is part of the reason why Township Treasurer Beth Bucko was able to announce, once the meeting got underway, that there will be no tax increase in Hanover Township next year, based on an $8.4 million general fund budget. The tax rate will remain at 3.9 mills, which includes a 0.5 mill fire tax. Once again, there will be no debt or borrowing. "We will be self-funding all of our projects," said Bucko.
|Treasurer Beth Bucko|
Hanover's tax rate has been stable at 3.9 mills since 2008.
Chairman John N. Diacogiannis believes the township is in good financial shape because of work done over the past 15 years. He acknowledged that Supervisors had concerns when Manager Jay Finnigan first proposed a 0.5 mill fire tax and establishing capital reserve funds, but it worked out very well. "We planned ahead, John," added Steve Salvesen.
Finnigan said that carving out the fire tax in 2006 has really paid off. Not only could the Township afford a $1.2 million ladder truck, but it will be able to purchase an ambulance next year without borrowing. Avoiding finance costs and debt payments is what leads to a stable budget, he said.
His fiscal conservatism was in full display when a resident asked about what impact the cessation of gaming grants will have.
"We do not budget for any type of grant revenue," he explained. "If it comes, we buy the thing it was destined to buy. Other municipalities use gaming revenue to at least help balance the budget. ... It does not affect our budget."
He also acknowledged a road crew that is willing to switch hours so they can paint the community center after hours or who stripe roads to avoid inconveniencing the public.
"It's not just the leadership. It's the people in the trenches," said Finnigan. "They are willing to adapt. They do things off the cuff." That road crew operates under Public Works Director Vince Milite, who said he has "faith in his employees to do the job."
Things look good at the community center, too. Director Robert Cepin told Supervisors. Over the past two years, he has cut expenses there by over $150,000. He has budgeted a five percent drop in revenue next year because of the anticipated opening of a new state-of-the-art fitness center that comes complete with an indoor pool.
The meeting usually concludes with a report from Finnigan. As people were antsy to get home to the World Series, he began delivering an unusually long report, detailing street by street where leaf pick up was occurring. Then he announced that Cleveland was up 2-0 and we all could leave.